Friday, January 16, 2009

Real People

One of the expressions I hate to hear baseball fans use is “I’m rooting for laundry”. It reduces a team to stats on a page and trading cards.

I love the personalities of baseball players, their tremendous abilities, unquantifiable contributions on the field, their quirks and yes even the flaws of the very human men who play the game. That’s why I loathe the likes of those fans who cite only the numbers and analysis they read in places like Baseball Prospectus. The fact they over emphasize numbers on their site is not a coincidence - a large part of BP’s founding writers were financial types (bankers, stockbrokers etc) which is why they appear to only read boxscores and crunch stats for their "over" analysis of players – how else could they have come to the conclusion that Eurbiel Durazo was going to be a star?(that was until he actually walked to the plate and started batting against real major league pitching) .

But I digress – my point is that I think the situation with Michael Young this week proves that teams are not just uniforms. Those uniforms are inhabited by grown men who are professionals taking pride in their positions and achievements like every other working person. I hated the analogies comparing Michael to some rebellious teenager on the Lamar Vikings JV Baseball Squad. My preferred analogy: what if you were a prominent, successful, divorce attorney in a prestigious firm - then one day the senior partner walks in your office one day and says – "We’ve got a guy from Harvard who hasn’t passed the bar exam yet, but we’re going to give him your office and your job. You are now a Tax Attorney – please pack up your stuff and move out of this office to another we have set up for you." How would you feel? Hey, you are still an attorney, and the law is the law isn’t it? You’re still working for the firm? Shouldn't you just shut up and play?

Look, I think there’s fault on both sides. Michael probably over reacted and getting the information out in the national press without the organization’s knowledge (and I imagine to the chagrin of the local media types) was a bad idea. Although the Rangers front office has often been guilty of doing pretty much the same thing (bad mouthing players they’ve traded or lost to free agency). In the end the Jon Daniels got what he wanted, but as always, it was another publicly botched up mess which seems to be the Rangers enduring legacy.

I think the question now is – what happened to the mantra about patience with the minor league prospects? We keep reading and hearing that it’s not about 2009 – so what is the big rush in getting Elvis to the major leagues? Especially since he’s never played an inning of AAA baseball? I saw Andrus play quite a bit in Frisco, and yes, I do think that he’s pretty close defensively to being ready for the majors – but I’m not sure about offense. Here’s some stat head numbers: in his first 192 AB’s (April and May) in Frisco he hit .268 – he hit .258 for the season vs LHP and don’t forget that he had almost three times as many K’s as BB’s last season (38 BB – 91 K). I kind of wonder what fan reaction will be when (not if) Elvis struggles, especially early on this season. JD had better start working on explanations right now.

I wish we could go back to having a very boring off season instead of what went on last week.

Finally: I know that new Hall of Famer Jim Rice had a reputation of being surly, but not always. Back in the early 80’s my Aunt Cathi loved to take pictures, she had hundreds of photos of Rangers and other AL players. The Red Sox were in town, Carl Yazstremski was one of my grandfather’s favorite players, Aunt Cathi was trying to get a picture of him to send back home, but was having no luck (and Carl was being a bit surly himself). Jim Rice watched in amusement as she tried to get Carl’s attention . He walked over to my aunt, asked how her camera worked, took the camera from her and proceeded to get pictures of Yaz (even got him to smile) brought the camera back to her with a gentlemanly bow. To my Aunt Cathi, Jim Rice will always be one of the good guys.

My advice to those who “root for laundry” buy a Kwik Wash and enjoy yourself – in my world baseball is (thankfully) played by real people with the same kind of pride, emotions and faults as all of the rest of us. -- Marla Hooch

Monday, January 12, 2009

Michael Young Asking To Be Traded...Wow

That's what happens when I decide to read a book instead of the internet last night.

Why is my first impression that this is the Rangers way of trying unload his contract rather than doing what is best for the team?

-- Marla Hooch

Sunday, January 11, 2009


Let's be honest kids, this has been the dullest offseason since the strike of 1994.

There's only so much you can write about pitching coaches, Gerald Laird and the new seats/video boards at the Ballpark.

I did cause a minor stir with my response on the Monday Morning Manager question about trading for Gary Sheffield. Let me 'splain: I said I'd think about it: if the Tigers paid 75% of his salary and the Rangers only have to give up a fringe type prospect (KC Herren anyone?) in return. My reason: I'm not a big believer in Nelson Cruz batting behind Josh Hamilton. There is always the possibility that the Rangers can find another alternative - say one of those players who'd sign a one year contract (that would elevate their stats by playing 81 games at the Ballpark) and increase their chances of obtaining the next Gary Matthews Jr. type contract in 2010 (Adam Dunn, anyone?) I wouldn't have have a problem with that.

Very pleased to see Jim Reeves writing again and adding to the Startlegram Blog (now listed on my links)...hope that you read TR Sullivan's wonderful profile of our friend Grant Schiller on the Rangers website (and the clever Christmas entry on Postcards From Elysian Fields with Grant, his dad Mike and some guy ... Be sure to check out Grant's interview with Eric Nadel right here....and when you are finished reading Grant surf over to the Scott Lucas list: Ranking Texas’s Top 72 Prospects, a/k/a Confirming Your Insanity In Writing

And.that's the extent of my thoughts on baseball.

Off Season, Off Topic: Aside from my crass promotion for "Life On Mars" (see the left hand sidebar of the blog) I'm also recommending - "Spectacle: Elvis Costello with..." on the Sundance Channel. The interviews are nothing earth-shattering - as a matter of fact they are a bit scattered - but the muscial performances are sensational. The best, so far, in my never humble opinion is James Taylor and Elvis signing the Everly Brothers "I'll Do My Crying In The Rain" - written by Carole King (I did not know that). Don't believe me: here's the video. And, as always you need to watch "Friday Night Lights" starting again on NBC at the end of this month. I'm fortunate to have Direct TV and have seen most of the episodes already (except the finale - it's on this Wednesday night) - this show has come back strong this year. I like the fact that they've decided to graduate most of the cast members, and if the show is renewed will feature all new kids next season, I don't like the rumor that Connie Britton and Kyle Chandler will not be brought back as Coach Taylor and his wife Tami . .. how much do I like "Chuck" on NBC? Every time I have to make a trip to "Best Buy" I keep saying I'm going to the "Buy More".

See you at the Newberg Booth at the Rangers Winter Fan Fest on January 24th (at least I think we're having a booth)

Wake me when it's time for Spring Training -- Marla Hooch